Monday, January 7, 2013
Today we spoke with Charles Person. Now I knew quite a bit about the Freedom riders going into the meeting with Mr. Person, but what he said to us resonated with me in a big way. He spoke to us not only about his experience on the buses but also encouraged us to get involved. I feel that I have greatly overlooked the status of society today. Since the overt racism of the world is, for the most part, not relevant anymore, I thought that the fight for Civil Rights was over. I couldn’t be more wrong. Although the race relations today are significantly better than they were when Mr. Person was my age, they are not anywhere near completely resolved. We as a generation and a society need to come together and get the fire lit underneath us once again.
In today’s society, there are so many things that are wrong and unjust. Mr. Person got us all thinking about what we were passionate about, and we continued the discussion in class later. I found that there were a couple of things that bugged me and grinded my gears: the lack of gay rights in our society, and the abuse of children whether it be emotional or physical. I know now that I need to do whatever I can to make a difference. Although in the past I used to feel as if one person couldn’t make a difference unless they were rich or powerful, I have now come to the realization that my assumption was completely off the mark. Anyone from any background or walk of life can make a difference in today’s world. Having come to this realization in just one day on the trip, I can’t wait to see what else I learn about myself and the things that I can do to help make a difference in today’s society.
Although I learned a lot from hearing Mr. Person speak and inspire us, I think the part of today that had the biggest impact on me was our discussion in class about the privileges that we all have, regardless of who we are or where we come from. Before you asked us the question, I already knew what privilege meant in regards to race/racism, but I had never really thought about what it meant to me personally. As a coordinator, the other students in my discussion groups sort of looked to me to start off the discussion, and as much as I would have loved to, I really couldn’t think of anything right off the bat. It took me a good five minutes of thinking before I could really fathom the fact that I had privileges that others didn’t have. I guess I just kind of thought that privilege applied to people who were the “perfect center” of the circle you drew on the board in class the other day. After I finally thought of some examples, like getting more questions directed at me during presentations with a female partner, I started to pull at the thread and discovered many more privileges of my own that I never even really knew that I had.
The hardest part of the discussion on privilege for me was thinking about how we can undo that privilege for ourselves. I guess I never was able to wrap my head fully around that during class except for little things like directing more questions toward a female partner during a presentation. I mean, I do know that all big changes start from little efforts from individuals, but I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it. It’s a great, interesting, stimulating conversation but I need to work on some answers for myself before I continue it I think.
Today has been a great learning experience; I can’t wait until tomorrow to see what Ebenezer and Birmingham have to offer!